Delta Bans The Navy SEAL Who Killed bin Laden And Refuses To Wear A Mask

Nine years, seven months, and 20 days after the September 11th attacks that took 2977 American lives, United States Navy SEALs of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group (“Seal Team Six”) executed Operation Neptune Spear, along with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and the CIA’s Special Activities Division, raided Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

During that raid, bin Laden was killed. The U.S. took his body back to Afghanistan for identification, and promptly buried it at sea by the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson in accordance with Islamic tradition.

Approximately 24 Navy SEALs from the Red Squadron of the Special Warfare Development Group carried out the mission, under CIA command (rather than Navy command, since the U.S. was not at war with Pakistan where the operation took place). The staged the operation in Jalalabad, and flew two Black Hawk helicopters modified with stealth technology.

The helicopters entered Pakistan low to the ground, avoiding radar detection. It took 90 minutes to reach Abbottabad. They cut power and breached the building, finding bin Laden on the third floor.

Robert J. O’Neill publicly identified himself as being the SEAL who shot bin Laden, saying he pushed past the lead SEAL and confronted bin Laden in his bedroom and shot him twice in the forehead and once in his body as he laid on the floor. The entire raid was projected to take 40 minutes, and was accomplished in just 38. The assault itself took only 15 minutes. Everyone returned safely to Bagram Airfield.

It’s never been clear though whether bin Laden was already dead from shots through the opened bedroom door by the lead SEAL. O’Neill may not have been the man who killed bin Laden, though he takes public credit for doing so.

I’ve always been a little troubled either way, because this was a huge team effort. I’ve never served, and don’t wish to second guess those who went on the mission. But it’s always bothered me that one person has sought personal glory from the raid to the exclusion of the rest of the team.

What makes this story relevant today is that Robert O’Neill, the SEAL credited with killing bin Laden, has been banned by Delta Air Lines for refusing to wear a mask inflight. (HT: One Mile at a Time)

“Posting a picture” means the now-deleted picture (he says deleted by his wife) of his not wearing a mask on a Delta flight, and questioning the manhood of anyone who does.

Screenshot via One Mile at a Time

While he claims it was all just a ‘joke’, he’s also posted anti-mask arguments as well.

The information about masks not being effective that he tweets, by the way, is from April (when we knew less about the virus) and the authors make clear that the effectiveness of cloth masks is all that is in question, and that they only do not know enough at that time about cloth masks. Rather than being an anti-mask argument, it’s an argument for better masks.

O’Neill thinks he shouldn’t be criticized over this, though, because after all he killed bin Laden (or, at least, was a SEAL who was a part of the mission and takes credit for doing so).

Kudos to Delta for applying their policy consistently. Past heroism – the man was a SEAL on the raid in Abbottabad – should be lauded but not used to excuse false bravado that potentially puts others in danger.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Who cares what he did in the past? He broke the rules knowing what could happen. Consequences of his own actions. Good for Delta!

  2. It appears he took off the mask to eat the snack, which people are allowed to do. The flight attendant is in the picture, moving down the aisle, passing out snacks. His error seems to have actually been taking the photo and sending it out. He wore a mask onto the plane, took it off at an allowed time–that’s not something that should be drawing the vitrol that it is eliciting.

  3. Rules are rules, if they only exist for certain people, then what’s to stop a general mutiny. If this guy wants to smoke in places where it’s restricted, should we allow him because of what he does for a job. This has nothing to do with his job, it’s about applying the rules consistently and fairly. Leave your egos at home.

  4. What a utter and complete narcissist this prick is and brings shame and dishonor to the cap badge he wore shame on you

  5. Really weird title case policy for your headline. You use the lazy and unprofessional-looking “initial case” instead of ordinary title case, but you keep “bin” lowercase! You have articles, particles, and coordinating conjunctions captialized (The, And, To, A) but bin in lowercase. How in the world does a part of a name (though in sentence case it is normally lowercase) become an exception to a style that has EVERY word capitalized?

  6. this man is always a hero and should never be disrespected. He’s the reason why you can even publish this degrading article.

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